Finding my way around Shenzhen – Part Two

I have spent the last two months au pairing and studying in Shenzhen, China through a LoPair programme. I have had some incredible experiences, and have been documenting my journey through the LoPair blog. LoPair is an established au pair agency with an extensive track record on au pair placements, arrival orientations and support care. If you are interested in finding out more about the company, go here. You can also find part one to this story, here.


Close your eyes, close your eyes and get a surprise

This fun children’s chant could not be more apt in describing my experience in Shenzhen. With every day that comes by, and the shut-eyes in between, I find myself learning more about the environment that lays around me.

Despite the temperamental drenching rain, and the (at times) stifling heat that so threatens to envelop you, the Shenzhen air is clear and the sky is bright.

For those of you who are considering joining the LoPair au pair programme, don’t forget your sun cream – you’re certainly going to need it once you’re here!

One of the most important things to do whilst you are out here, asides from maintaining your work and class duties, is to find and build a support system. I know personally that my experience would not have been the same had it not been for my fellow au pairs. Wechat is such a nifty tool to communicate with others, and it is something that I have definitely taken advantage of whilst I have been here.

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Moments for wechat users is what stories are like for fans of Snapchat, Facebook or Instagram. Something you can use to show off your lesson plans, and travels. It’s a great way of keeping track of those around you, and of highlighting some of your favourite moments in China. It is these personal touches, aided by digital bytes, that are ubiquitous here. Certainly what surprised me when I arrived, was the seamless integration of technology that exist in everyday life here. For example, people can pay for meals or simple trinkets using wechat pay. You could come across, even the most remote shop in the city, and they would accept payment by mobile. Just scan the QR code, and you’re a-go.

It is with this in mind, that I am left wondering why Chinese stereotypes are not extended to technology. A city full of digital minds and hearts, Shenzhen certainly has a reputation for being the pinnacle of technological innovation (having been dubbed China’s answer to Silicon Valley), however the same could not be said of reputations elsewhere. China is opening its mind (and wallet) to the possibilities of open networks and constant trade of information and goods, and the rest of the world should take note. With one of the biggest e-commerce markets in the world, China is making a stand for modernity and connection.

It would, however, be a digression to delve further into the inner mechanisms of Chinese society. Certainly that can be left to the sociologists, anthropologists and economists of the world.

What are worth noting instead are the smaller connections that are forged within this community. Recently, I attended a KTV session (essentially a karaoke booth) with some other au pairs. From this, I had hoped for two things: to gain a finer appreciation for Chinese culture, and to stretch out my vocal chords. As I expected, I was able to achieve both objectives. There is something special about sharing a song with others. Amidst all your struggles and worries, you can left everything go in the middle of a Beyoncé or ABBA song. It was something I needed, and something I really enjoyed. Despite the lack of up-to-date English songs (unfortunately Despacito doesn’t count, however memorable and fun it may be), the booth was packed with throwbacks. Picture Jamilla and Natasha Beddingfield: absolute classics in their time, and you can begin to have some idea as to what the atmosphere was like that night.

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It is from this high that I hope to embark on new adventures in my journey here in China.

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Warm air and picturesque surroundings – what more can you ask for?

 

The original blog can be found here. If you have any tips or advice that you would like to share, or you have any questions, leave a comment down below.

Finding my way around Shenzhen – Part One

I have spent the last month au pairing and studying in Shenzhen, China through a LoPair programme. I have had some incredible experiences, and have been documenting my journey through the LoPair blog. LoPair is an established au pair agency with an extensive track record on au pair placements, arrival orientations and support care. If you are interested in finding out more about the company, go here.


 

The art of using chopsticks: like all things in China, it requires focus, speed and precision. It is something I have been getting used to these past few weeks, and like the hustle and bustle of the city, it is slowly becoming a second nature to me.

My experience in the Middle Kingdom has been stimulating to say the least.

From traversing the subway system to tackling testy VPN connections, Shenzhen has not been without its challenges, but like most trials, it has also borne some satisfying ends.

Despite not being particularly known for their warm hospitality worldwide, the people in China have been among the friendliest that I have come across. When you walk around the city, the only danger you face is the traffic (or getting lost!) and the weather is a warm welcome, and a fine departure from the cold drizzle commonly found in Britain.

You are taken in by the vibrance and stir of the city, and by the aroma of street markets and restaurants. The city is young and fresh, and in this moment, you are one of its makers.

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Arrival orientation in Hangzhou

I have been in Shenzhen for about a month now and in this time, I have gained the pleasure of getting to know my host brother Brian. A sweet-natured five year old boy, he has taken to British children songs like a regular native. From memorising the words to 10 Green Bottles to Coulter’s Candy (a Scottish classic) to even Frère Jacques (allowing him to expand his repertoire of foreign songs from English to French), it has been a sight to see him grow in confidence in learning popular culture from the West.

It is with this eager companion of mine, I have experienced some of my best days here. From swimming in Guangzhou – a marvellous city where Chinese tradition meets modernity – to trying different teas (how I could write about the tea!) to finding a song in every object (Circle, square, triangle, I see shapes everywhere ‘’ Rain, rain go away, come again another day), China has been full of small wonders, and it is these wonders I look forward to, day in and day out.

As a third of my trip goes by, I find myself wistfully yearning for the next adventures of my Chinese experience.

Guanzhou city view

A city full of people – the opportunities are out there!

 

The original blog can be found here. If you have any tips or advice that you would like to share, or you have any questions, leave a comment down below.

Sun, Sea and er… Stories! (What else did you think it was gonna be!)

Some of my friends are wondering just what is going on in my holiday so I’m updating my latest fanatics up on this post for everyone to read – let’s just hope not too much wrong will happen!

Day One – 6 October 2012

Bag Packed – Check

Electronics Charged – Check

Wake up at 3am- …….. Check

One quick shower (15 mins) and a change, I grab the nearest luggage and haul it up the stairs to the taxi…

No. I got to tell the truth in this blog… To be honest after the change I put on my jacket,stuff my books in the bag and then go up the stairs. I left all the luggage for the taxi man and my family to take themselves (I mean it’s not like I want to bruise my septum, do I?)

*My parents frown as they try to think what a septum is and how I could bruise it…*

Taxi comes. Parents freak out! Taxi man takes half n hour to put all my luggage in the boot.

Nothing much changed then!

Though maybe I shouldn’t have packed so many things…..

30 minutes later…

EDI Airport -My brother is wearing his snapback – as if that will make him look any harder(!) My sister is all dolled up with not much to do – aw bless her! Shame she isn’t coming… (this is short lived as I try to carry the luggage – Yep! To pay me back for not carrying anything, my parents leave me with everything! Typical….

1 hour later…

Mum mix up seat numbers and holds back the plane 15 minutes. This is going to be a long holiday…

Fuss sorted, I relax in the aisle seat and let my worries fade away next to two strangers –

After all how much problems can happen 35,000 feet up in the air?

My book is in one of the luggages. My brother is on his I Pod. Nothing to do but sleep. sleep…

One nap later….

The ladies offer me a bevarege – I take a hot chocolate and some breakfast. Yes, it is going to be a long holiday.

2 naps later….

I reach my destination to CDG.

Repeat Airport Procedures.

I’m back on a plane to RBA.

Thankfully seat numbers are not a problem.

My book is saftely out of harms way and in my hand.

22 Chapters later…

I have lunch: Chicken, risotto, mushrooms,bread, Presidential Brie, piece of chocolate and 2 cokes (gready pig!)

Rich, Butter, Velvety, Smooth, Chocolately cookies later, I am stuffed and start to carry on reading ‘Kiss the Girls’ by James Patterson; An Alex Cross Series; A number one best seller; A movie of which I have watched starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd; A national Treasure!

Maybe not quite like that, but you know…

Repeat Airport Procedures.

I see sun, I see fresh air, I see clouds! OH NO. So maybe it is a little too hot for me… I take a sip of warm Evian and jump into a taxi. The boot is far too small so all our luggages end up on our lap giving us no room to breathe.

30 minutes later…

Summer home sweet Summer Home. (Not quite the same ring to it)…

After hugs and kisses to close relatives I run to (of course) the computer to start writing a couple of new blogs.

Dinner is okay.

I read more then go to sleep.

Bring on the next fortnight!